Here come the smart homes: 21.5M in Europe and North America by 2017

After a slow start, smart home system installations in Europe and North America will hit 21.5 million in 2017 suggests Berg Insight¬†on Monday. That forecast represents a huge jump from the estimated 2.3 million smart home installations expected this year. What’s driving the anticipated growth? Less expensive systems, for one and improved usability — thanks to mobile apps — for another:

“In recent years, a new breed of more affordable whole-home systems has emerged on the market, relying on smartphone apps as a primary user interface. This has enabled more user-friendly systems and price tags in the hundreds of dollars, which is making whole-home automation accessible to the vast majority of the population.”

Having built up my own smart home system in pieces, starting in 2010, I can certainly appreciate Berg’s thinking here. In the past, “smart home” was a phrase you’d only hear from geeks like me or those with a high disposable income. Now you can start building out a system with parts costing under $100 and add on other components as needed.

And we can look to mobile apps as the layer of simplicity to control our smart homes. Perhaps the “poster child” of this is Nest and its intelligent thermostat. A simple on-device interface combined with an effective, efficient smartphone app makes the device easy to use for all.

Nest founder Tony Fadell recently explained at our Roadmap 2013 event how smart home companies need to strongly consider their corresponding app. Why? Because consumers aren’t likely to swap out smart home hardware on a regular basis; it’s far easier to upgrade capabilities through software updates and apps than through hardware.